Reactions to the Washington team name retirement

Suzan Harjo, Hodulgee Muscogee and Cheyenne, has been pushing for the retirement of racist mascots for decades. (Photo by Vincent Schlling, Indian Country Today)

Indian Country Today

Updated: Indian Country reactions from interviews, social media posts and statements

Indian Country Today

The racist name and logo promoted by the Washington NFL franchise for years is heading to a much-needed retirement.

Indian Country is celebrating Monday’s announcement. Here’s what people are saying:


Amanda Blackhorse, longtime advocate for name change
“It's been a long journey and many sacrifices have been made. Rest in Power George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery & many others. #BlackLivesMatter! We still need justice for Breonna Taylor! Thank you #BLM for creating awareness, this means so much to Indigenous ppl!”


Suzan Shown Harjo, longtime advocate for name change

"This is a huge societal change we've made. You know, as I said, it's been a societal sea change on the mascot stuff. When you eliminate two thirds of anything, you've already changed society."


Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer
“On behalf of the Navajo Nation, we thank and commend all of our Indigenous brothers and sisters who dedicated themselves to a just cause and won! We stand with you as proud Indigenous peoples knowing that together we brought about change and we will continue to fight for what is right. Ahe’hee’

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, White Earth Nation
“This decision is the right one - and it took WAY too long to get here. I am thankful my young Anishinaabe daughter will not have to grow up seeing this racist image of our people plastered on TV, jerseys & merchandise. This is an important first step. We’ve got more work to do.”


Sarah Sunshine Manning, NDN Collective communications director
“This win is absolutely surreal and yet long overdue. We stand on the shoulders of GENERATIONS who fought for this and today I’m thinking of them. Reclaiming our space and our dignity as Indigenous people, and raising our voice unapologetically, has only just begun.”

John Little, co-director of More Than A Word documentary
“I honestly didn’t know if I would see this day. Thankful for the more than 50 years of fighting from Native activists, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and the sponsors - yes even though it took the threat of lost revenue to do the right thing. #thenameischanged #notyourmascot


Eugene Tapahe, Native journalist
“I started this fight 20 years ago with ESPN The Magazine—the racial slur has finally come to an end! In my kids' lifetime. Now it’s time to rid all Native mascots and their mockery of real people. #NotYourMascot”

Waubgeshig Rice, Native author
“The R-word was the first slur I ever heard from racist white kids. Shoutout to the Indigenous activists who've been fighting for decades to change the Washington NFL team's name, and to the recent Black Lives Matter action that's brought wider awareness of racism in all realms.”

Ricardo Cate, Kewa Pueblo cartoonist 


Dr. Twyla Baker, Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College president
“We’re coming for the rest of them too. #NotYourMascot Thinking of everyone who has been fighting these things since before I was born. Thinking of my relatives who I attended UND with. Feels sweet. Love you all.”

Graham Lee Brewer, Native journalist
“Alternate headline: After decades of profiting off racial slur, NFL team owner to make millions on new merchandise.”


U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, New Mexico Democrat and vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
“The name change is a welcome but long overdue step forward. Now, the franchise has an opportunity to hear from and involve Native Americans in the process of renaming the team, to ensure that they don’t make the same mistake twice.”

Amanda Tachine, college professor
“Thank you to the justice warriors who fought this battle for decades. Esp thinking of my sis @blackhorse_a for not giving up, & for displaying a true possible self for Indigenous peoples. She w/others went against a big dollar franchise & won! Yéego shideezhi!”


Billy Mills, Olympic gold medalist and Running Strong for American Indian Youth national spokesperson
"It’s never too late to do the right thing. Now I urge the Washington football team to truly turn the page, and pick a new name and logo with no exploitation of Native people. They are on the verge of righting a historic wrong. What they do next will define this team’s legacy.”

Crystal Echo Hawk, IllumiNative executive director
“Today we celebrate the retirement of the Washington NFL football team name that has long perpetuated racism and harm against Native peoples. This is 30 years in the making, and we honor the leaders of this movement, Suzan Harjo and Amanda Blackhorse, and important contributors such as Dr. Stephanie Fryberg, First Peoples Worldwide and thousands of other Native organizations, people and tribal leaders who have fought for this. Tomorrow, our fight continues. We will not rest until the offensive use of Native imagery, logos, and names are eradicated from professional, collegiate, and K-12 sports. The time is now to stand in solidarity and declare that racism will not be tolerated.”


Rickey Armstrong Sr., president of the Seneca Nation
"After decades of perpetuating and promoting an offensive and racist nickname, change has finally come to the football franchise in Washington. It is a change that is long overdue. The Seneca people and Indigenous people everywhere are appreciative of the fact that this change is finally being made. Yet, it is clear that the team’s ownership did not make this decision out of respect and decency toward Indigenous people, who have been calling for this change for many years. Ultimately, it was the financial pressure exerted by corporations and the possible hit on the team’s wallet that drove the decision."

Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation representative and head of the Change the Mascot campaign

“The NFL and Dan Snyder have finally made the right call, and Change the Mascot commends them for it. This is a good decision for the country – not just Native peoples – since it closes a painful chapter of denigration and disrespect toward Native Americans and other people of color. Future generations of Native youth will no longer be subjected to this offensive and harmful slur every Sunday during football season."



Rebrand Washington Football
“Rebrand Washington Football (RWF) applauds the announcement by the Washington professional football team today that it will change its racist name. However, RWF joins Native American activists around the country in demanding that the new name not be one such as Warriors which evokes Native American imagery and stereotypical characteristics. Any reference in the name to Native Americans or any other ethnic group would only perpetuate racist imagery that the change would aim to eliminate.”

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antoniocvzs
antoniocvzs

ABOUT DAMN TIME!!!!👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽🙃


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